The Akola journey began with a 10 minute meeting that changed the life of Akola’s founder. In 2004, Brittany Underwood was moved to compassion as a sophomore in college after meeting a Ugandan woman named Sarah who cared for 24 street children in her home. Compassion escalated to action as Brittany founded a nonprofit to construct an orphanage home to house children who slept on Sarah’s floor. In 2006, upon graduating college, Brittany moved to Uganda to begin the construction of the orphanage and the drilling of over 20 water wells throughout the country. As the team traveled to different villages, they were amazed by women who cared for 10+ children in their homes. Like Sarah, they had a hope and vision for their families; they simply did not have the income or confidence to embrace their calling. After completing the orphanage, Brittany discovered that by training and employing women and guaranteeing them a monthly income we could care for thousands of children, without the construction of an orphanage home.
In 2007, Brittany launched a new sustainable model to uplift women and children. The women named it “Akola”, which means “to work” in their local dialect. After 5 years in the field, she worked with the best development practitioners in the country to develop a sustainable impact model for women.
The work paid off.
Over the last seven years, the Akola Project has blossomed into a thriving social business that empowers women across the globe. The hope of Akola is to encourage new thinking about international development and to inspire the next generation of social innovators to deliver the highest level of impact in disadvantaged communities.
Brittany was named the ‘Best Person in the World” by Yahoo in 2014 and was honored by clothing manufacturer Levi as one of 50 women around the globe who have changed the political, cultural, and spiritual shape of the future. She was awarded the Emerging Leader Award from SMU in 2013, received the Young Leader Award from the Dallas Women’s Foundation in 2014, and was the 2014 ‘My Michelle Moment’ recipient for Michelle Watches. Brittany has been featured on the likes of the Katie Couric Show, CNN’s Young People Who Rock, Christianity Today, and Modern Luxury. In 2014, she was asked to join the elite mentoring class for the Laura Bush Women’s Initiative. Brittany joined the faculty of Southern Methodist University in 2015 where she teaches a new course on Social Innovation.
Brittany is passionate about sharing her experience, lessons and expertise with audiences who are eager to make an impact in our world. If you would like to request having Brittany speaking at your next event, please complete this Speaker Request Form.